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Rajasthan Ministers Pledge To Improve Adolescent Health

The state government’s commitment is particularly significant as Rajasthan’s youth and adolescent population is pegged at 32 per cent of the state’s total population.

In a positive move towards adolescent health in Rajasthan, State Health Minister Dr Raghu Sharma and Women and Child Development Minister Mamta Bhupesh made commitments towards improving the health and overall well-being of adolescents, signing a pledge articulating their intent. Representatives of the national-level Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Population Foundation of India, the architects of the campaign were present when the two ministers signed the document. 

“Adolescents and youth are our greatest asset and we are committed to investing in their health and holistic development for a just, inclusive and prosperous Rajasthan,” the pledge states, reaffirming the Rajasthan government's commitment to ensuring adolescents are healthy and empowered to be positive change-makers. It promises their inclusion in policymaking and in the ideation of development programmes so that they can be stakeholders in decisions that will impact their lives and overall well-being.

Divya Santhanam, Senior State Program Manager, Population Foundation of India adds, “As a grassroots organisation, we have discovered that when governments use their resources well and synergize with civil society organisations, change happens more rapidly and at a much larger scale. The renewed commitment by the Honourable Ministers of Health and Women and Child Development will play a very important role in ensuring adolescent health is a priority in Rajasthan.”

The Rajasthan State Government is spearheading campaigns to not just end child marriage but to address the health and developmental needs of young people. Campaigns like Nirogi Rajasthan, Zero Teenage Pregnancy (launched by the Health Minister), the establishment of Model Community Health Centers (CHCs) in all 200 constituencies as well as the inclusion of Adolescent Friendly Health Centers (AFHCs) in these Model CHCs are critical to improving adolescent wellbeing. 

The state government’s commitment is particularly significant as Rajasthan’s youth and adolescent population is pegged at 32 per cent of the state’s total population. Due to social, cultural and economic reasons, however, they face a slew of challenges that deny them the opportunity to realise their full potential. As per National Family Health Survey (2015-16), over 35 per cent of girls in Rajasthan are married before the age of 18. The 2018 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) survey stated that 20 per cent of girls drop out of school due to multiple reasons, including early marriage and childbearing.

“The signing of this pledge demonstrates the state government's commitment to advancing adolescent and youth health with concrete steps and empowering policies so that they can grow up to be productive, healthy, and happy citizens of the country. This is all the more relevant in the present pandemic as COVID-19 has highlighted the need for investing in our adolescents and youth for healthier and more resilient communities,” adds Santhanam. 



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